Public complaints scarce at budget hearing

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A budget with no proposed millage rate increase, no change in service levels and no county pay increases breeds a very quiet public hearing.

Gwinnett's Board of Commissioners held a public hearing regarding its proposed 2012 budget Tuesday night. After a short video detailing the county's budget-making process, the floor was opened for comment from the smattering of Gwinnett residents in the audience.

Only a trio of representatives from Friends of the Gwinnett County Public Library took the mic, and they were thanking the board for their considerations while making the proposed budget.

"We still want to attract growth and attract business and attract good people," Fran Hale, the group's vice president, said, "and it's gratifying to know that you appreciate the importance of literacy and the importance of all the services that our library can offer to Gwinnett citizens."

Overall, there were about two dozen supporters of the library at Tuesday's meeting.

The proposed budget for 2012 -- Chairwoman Charlotte Nash's first as an elected official -- includes about $30 million in voluntary cuts, closing the original budget gap to about $5 million. The proposal does little to county services, though the police and fire departments will wait another year before filling 25 vacancies apiece.

Nash reminded those in the audience Tuesday that public comments on the budget can also be submitted online at www.gwinnettcounty.com.